Shashi Kapoor: The baron of our cinema

Born as Balbir Raj Kapoor on 18th March 1938, Shashi Kapoor was the third and youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor. When he was only four years old, he started working as an artist in plays directed and produced by his father Prithviraj. He also acted as a child artiste in films and is remembered for his roles in Aag and Awara, where he played the younger version of Raj Kapoor. His entire life post that has been an exciting journey until 4th December 2017, when he took his last breath. Let’s check out everything about his journey here.
 

Balbir worked as an assistant director in films like Dulha Dulhan and Shriman Satyawadi which had his brother Raj Kapoor as the lead hero.
 

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He was only 18 when he met Jennifer Kendal in Calcutta. While he was traveling with his father’s Prithvi Theatre group, she was there with her father’s "Shakespeareana" group. The two fell in love and married each other in a traditional Indian style wedding in 1958 and had three children namely Karan Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor, and Sanjana Kapoor.

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He made his debut as a hero in the Yash Chopra directed film Dharmputra (1961) and went on to work with Bimal Roy in Prem Patra & Benazir. He also turned towards English movies and was one of India’s first actors to go international. 

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While most of the top actresses in the early 60s had reservations about working with Shashi Kapoor, actress Nanda signed a half dozen Hindi films with him as she had faith in his talent. Shashi Kapoor – Nanda became a hit pair with several success stories, starting with Jab Jab Phool Khile. The romantic musical has been a source of inspiration for several films including Raja Hindustani, which was made 2 decades later.  

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He became one of the busiest actors in the 1970s and worked almost 3 shifts a day. He made a successful pair with several heroines, especially Sharmila Tagore, Rakhee and Zeenat Aman. He also teamed up successfully with Amitabh Bachchan in several films. He had his own style of underplaying with élan which made him very popular. His simple dialogue “Mere Paas Maa Hai” in Deewaar is still on everybody’s lips.

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In 1978, he set up his own production house, Film Valas, which produced critically acclaimed films such as Junoon (1978), Kalyug (1981), 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Vijeta (1982) and Utsav (1984). In 1991, he produced and directed a fantasy film titled Ajooba, which had his frequent co-star Amitabh Bachchan and nephew Rishi Kapoor in the lead.

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When Shashi’s wife Jennifer died in 1984, he became too demotivated and began to gain weight. Though his focus shifted to character roles, he did manage to vow his fans with superb performances like New Delhi Times &  Muhafiz.

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Shashi Kapoor as a child artist had worked with Ashok Kumar in blockbusters such as Sangram (1950) and Samadhi (1950) where Ashok Kumar was the solo lead hero, which were huge hits at box office. He played Ashok Kumar's younger brother in Benazir where Ashok Kumar was the main male lead hero. Ashok Kumar played the supporting actor in 7 films with Shashi as the lead hero from 1975-1985 of which Chori Mera Kaam, Aap Beati, Shankar Dada, Apna Khoon and Maan Gaye Ustaad became hits!

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In an interview in the 1990s, Kapoor declared that Nanda was his favorite actress and that he regarded her as one of his mentors. In another interview, Nanda stated that Shashi Kapoor was her favorite actor.

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He did two double role films, both of which were box-office hits - Haseena Maan Jayegi and Shankar Dada. Shashi did a song number in Shankar Dada, a box-office hit, dressed up as a female.

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Shashi Kapoor was regularly cast with Sanjeev Kumar also in films such as Mukti (1977), Trishul (1978), Muqaddar (1978), Swayamvar (1980), Sawaal (1982) and Pakhandi (1984). After his wife's death in 1984, he started becoming overweight, but he was given his comeback role as a character artiste by Rajesh Khanna in Alag Alag, a 1985 film.

Sanjeev Kumar
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Shashi Kapoor requested Amitabh Bachchan to star in his ambitious directorial debut film Ajooba. Amitabh Bachchan agreed to do the film due to his friendship with Shashi Kapoor, even though at the time Amitabh was not signing any new films. The film did not do too well at the box office in India, but was classed as a hit abroad. The film had a lavish budget with a megastar lineup. The film over the years has been appreciated for its storytelling and acting from Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Amrish Puri.

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